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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 3: Harmony of the Law, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

The Ceremonial Supplements of
the First Commandment

The Institution of the Passover


Exodus 12:1-20

1. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,

1. Loquutus est Jehova ad Mosen et ad Abaton in terra Aegypti, dicendo.

2. This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

2. Mensis iste principium vobis erit mensium, et primus idem vobis in mensibus anni.

3. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their’ fathers, a lamb for an house.

3. Loquimini ad totum coetum Israel, dicendo, Decima hujus mensis tollat sibi quisque agnum secundum domum patrum, agnum domatim.

4. And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it, according to the number of the souls: every man, according to his eating, shall make your count for the lamb.

4. Quod si minor fuerit familia quam pro agno, assumet ipse vicinum suum qui propinquior fuerit domus suae, pro numero animarum, singuli ad mensuram cibi sui numerabitis pro agno.

5. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats.

5. Agnus erit vobis integer masculus anniculus, quem ex ovibus aut capris tolletis.

6. And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

6. Et erit vobis in custodia usque ad decimam quartam diem hujus mensis: mactabitque eum omnis coetus Israel inter vesperas.

7. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two sideposts, and on the upper door-post of the houses wherein they shall eat it.

7. Et tollent e sanguine, ponentque super duos postes, et in superliminari ad domus in quibus eum comedent.

8. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

8. Et comedent carnem in ipsa nocte assam igni, et azymos panes cum amaritudinibus comedent.

9. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.

9. Non comedetis ex co crudum, vel coctione coctum in aquis, sed assum igni: caput ejus cum cruribus ejus, et cum intestinis ejus.

10. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.

10. Nec residuum facietis quicquam ex eo usque mane: quod autem reliquum fuerit ex eo usque mane, comburetis.

11. And thus shall ye eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand: and ye shall eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s passover.

11. Sic comedetis illum, lumbis vestris accincti, et calceamenta vestra in pedibus vestris, et baculus vester in manu vestra, et comedetis ipsum cum festinatione. Est Pesah Jehovae.

12. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast: and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.

12. Nam transibo per terram Aegypti nocte hac, et percutiam omnem primogenitum in terra Aegypti ab homine usque ad jumentum: et in cunctis diis Aegypti edam judicia: ego Jehova.

13. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

13. Et erit sanguis vobis in signum per domos in quibus vos fueritis: et videns sanguinem ipsum transiliam vos: nec erit in vobis plaga interitus quum percutiam terram Aegypti.

14. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations: ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

14. Et erit vobis dies iste in memoriam: et celebrabitis eum festum Jehovae in generationes vestras, statuto aeterno celebrabitis eum.

15. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread, from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.

15. Septem diebus infermentata comedetis: prima die cessare facietis fermentum e domibus vestris.

16. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.

16. Et in die primo, convocatio sancta, die quoque septimo convocatio sancta erit vobis: omne opus non fiet in eis, veruntamen quod comedetur ab omni anima, illud tantummodo fiet a vobis.

17. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this self-same day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.

17. Observabitisque infermentata: quia hac ipsa die eduxi exercitus vestros e terra Aegypti: observabitis inquam diem istum in generationibus vestris statuto perpetuo.

18. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.

18. In primo mense, decimo quarto die mensis, in vespera comedetis infermentata usque ad diem vicesimum primum mensis in vespera.

19. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.

19. Septem diebus fermentum non invenietur in domibus vestris.

20. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.

20. Omne fermentum non comedetis: in omnibus habitaculis vestris comedetis infermentata.

1. And the Lord spake. Although the institution of the Passover in some degree appertains to the Fourth Commandment, where the Sabbath and Feast-days will be treated of; yet, in so far as it was a solemn symbol  308 of their redemption, whereby the people professed their obligation to God their deliverer, and in a manner devoted themselves to His dominion, I have not hesitated to insert it here as a supplement of the First Commandment. The observation of the day itself will again recur in its proper place; it will only be suitable to observe here, that God enjoined this ceremony in order that He might wholly bind the people under obligation to Himself alone, and that from it the Israelites might learn that they should never turn away from Him, by whose kindness and hand they were redeemed. For by these means He had purchased them to Himself as His peculiar people; and, therefore, whenever He reproves them for declining from His pure worship, He complains that they were forgetful of this great favor, the memory of which ought to have been sufficient to retain them. In effect, then, the celebration of the Passover taught the Israelites that it was not lawful for them to have regard to any other God besides their Redeemer; and also that it was just and right for them to consecrate themselves to His service, since He had restored them from death to life; and thus, as in a glass or picture, He represented to their eyes His grace; and desired that they should on every succeeding year recognize what they had formerly experienced, lest it should ever depart from their memory. First, let us define what the Passover (Pascha) is;  309 I use its trite and ordinary name. In its etymology there is no difficulty, except that the passage (transitus) of God, is equivalent to His leaping over, (transilitio) whereby it came to pass that the houses of the Israelites remained untouched; for Isaiah,  310 speaking of the second redemption, unquestionably alludes to this place, when he says, I will leap over Jerusalem. The reason, then, for this expression being used is, that God’s vengeance passed over the Israelites, so as to leave them uninjured. With respect to the twofold mention by Moses of a passing-over, observe that the same word is not used in both places; but Pesah  311 refers to the chosen people, and Abar to the Egyptians; as if he had said, my vengeance shall pass through the midst of your enemies, and shall everywhere destroy them; but you I will pass over untouched. Since, then, God was willing to spare His Israel, He awakened the minds of the faithful to the hope of this salvation, by the interposition of a sign;  312 whilst He instituted a perpetual memorial of His grace, that the Passover might every year renew the recollection of their deliverance. For the first Passover was celebrated in the very presence of the thing itself, to be a pledge to strengthen their terrified minds; but the annual repetition was a sacrifice of thanksgiving, whereby their posterity might be reminded that they were God’s rightful and peculiar dependents (clientes). Yet both the original institution and the perpetual law had a higher reference; for God did not once redeem His ancient people, that they might remain safely and quietly in the land, but He wished to bring them onward even to the inheritance of eternal life, wherefore the Passover was no less than Circumcision a sign of spiritual grace; and so it has an analogy and resemblance to the Holy Supper, because it both contained the same promises, which Christ now seals to us in that, and also taught that God could only be propitiated towards His people by the expiation of blood. In sum, it was the sign of the future redemption as well as of that which was past. For this reason Paul writes, that “Christ our Passover is slain,” (1Co 5:7;) which would be unsuitable, if the ancients had only been reminded in it of their temporal benefit. Yet let us first establish this, that the observation of the Passover was commanded by God in the Law, that He might demand the gratitude of His people and devote to Himself those who were redeemed by His power and grace. I now descend to particulars. God commands the Israelites to begin the year with the month in which they had come out of Egypt, as if it had been the day of their birth, since that exodus was in fact a kind of new birth;  313 for, whereas they had been buried in Egypt, the liberty given them by God was the beginning of a new life and the rising of a new light. For though their adoption had gone before, yet, since in the mean time it had almost vanished from the hearts of many, it was necessary that they should be in a manner re-begotten, that they might begin to acknowledge more certainly that God was their Father. Wherefore He says in Hosea,

“I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no God but me,” (Ho 12:9, and Ho 13:4;)

because He had then especially acquired them to Himself as His peculiar people; and He speaks even more clearly a little before,

“when Israel was a child, then I loved him,
and called my son out of Egypt.” (Ho 11:1.)

Now, although it was common to the race of Abraham with other nations to begin the year with the month of March; yet in this respect the reason for it was different, for it was only to the elect people that their resurrection was annually put before their eyes. But, up to that time, the Hebrews themselves had begun their year with the month of September, which is called in Chaldee Tisri, and in which many suppose that the world was created; because immediately on its creation the earth produced ripe fruits, so that its fecundity was in perfection. And still there remains among the Jews a twofold manner of dating and counting their years; for, in all matters which relate to the common business of life, they retain the old and natural computation, so that the first month is the beginning of Autumn; but, in religious matters and festivals, they follow the injunctions of Moses; and this is the legal year, beginning nearly with our month of March,  314 yet not precisely, because we have not their ancient embolisms; for, since twelve circuits of the moon would not equal the sun’s course, they were obliged to make an intercalation, lest, in progress of years, an absurd and enormous diversity should arise. Thence it happens that the month Nisan, in which they celebrated the Passover, begins among the Jews sometimes earlier, and sometimes later, according as the intercalation retards it.

3. Speak ye unto all. A question is asked on this passage, why, when one Lamb alone was offered in sacrifice for the reconciliation of the Church, and God was propitiated by the blood of one Christ alone, He should have commanded a lamb to be slain in every house, as if there were to be a special sacrifice for every one apart? The reply is easy; because, although all were protected from destruction by the same blood, and the general rite united them altogether into fellowship in the same expiation, yet still it was not unreasonable that, by that special application, so to speak, God would have every family separately reminded, so as to feel the grace more peculiarly conferred on itself. Thus now-a-days we have all the same baptism, whereby we are ingrafted in common into the body of Christ; yet His baptism is conferred on every individual, that they may more surely acknowledge that they are partakers in the adoption, and therefore members of the Church. God, then, in commanding them to slay a lamb in every house, did not wish to draw away the people to different grounds of hope, but only to shew them in a familiar way, that all houses were under obligation to Him, and that not only the salvation of the whole people ought to be confessed to come from Him, but that His singular blessing ought to shine forth in every family. The cause of his desiring the neighbors to be added if the number of people in one house were not, sufficient to eat the Passover, was that nothing might be left of it; and this amongst others appears to have been the chief reason why the whole lamb was to be consumed, viz., lest they should mix this sacred feast with their daily food, and also lest its dignity should be diminished by appearing in the form of tainted meat. Perhaps, too, God provided this, lest any superstition should creep in from the preservation of the remnants; and therefore commanded the very bones to be burnt.

5. Your lamb shall be without blemish. We shall see elsewhere, that in all their sacrifices prescribed by the Law they were diligently to beware, lest there should be any spot or fault in them; and by this the people were reminded, that the expiation was not legitimate, unless it possessed the utmost perfection, such as is never to be found in men. It is not to be wondered, therefore, that God should now require the Passover to be of one year old, and without blemish, that the Israelites might know that in order to propitiate God, a more excellent price was required than could be discovered in the whole human race; and since such excellency could much less exist in a beast, the celestial perfection and purity of Christ was shewn forth by this visible perfection of the lamb, or kid. It was with reference to this also that; they were commanded to keep it up separate from the rest; of the flock, from the tenth until the fourteenth day of the month. As to God’s will, that the side-posts and lintel should be sprinkled with blood, by this sign He plainly taught them, that the sacrifice would profit none but those who were stained and marked with Christ’s blood; for this sprinkling was equivalent to their bearing each one the mark: of His blood upon their forehead. And, in effect, Christ, by the outpouring of His blood, has not delivered all, but only the faithful, who sanctify themselves with it. That internal sprinkling indeed holds the first place, which Peter teaches us to be effected by the power of the Spirit, (1Pe 1:2;) yet by this external sign the Israelites were instructed that they could not be protected from God’s wrath, except by holding up against it the shield of the blood. And this corresponds with the lesson learnt above, that the same universal sacrifice was offered particularly in every house, in order that thus its peculiar instruction might affect them more seriously, when generally it would have been uninteresting and ineffectual. I prefer to be ignorant as to why He required the flesh to be roasted and not boiled, rather than to invent such unfounded subtleties, as that Christ was, in a manner, roasted on the Cross. A nearer approach to the truth appears to me to be, that God desired thus to mark their haste, because, when their implements were all packed up, the meat would be more easily roasted on a spit than cooked in the pot. And this also is the tendency of the precept respecting the manner of eating it, in which three things are to be observed, the unleavened bread, the sauce of bitter herbs, and the girded loins, together with the rest of the costume of travelers. Undoubtedly God commanded the bread to be made without leaven on account of their sudden departure, because He would snatch his people out of Egypt, as it were, in a moment; and, therefore, they baked unleavened loaves out of flour hurriedly kneaded.  315 It was required that the remembrance of this should be renewed every year, in order that their posterity might know that their deliverance was afforded them from above, since their fathers hastily took flight without having made any preparation for their journey; for any greater preparation would have thrown some shade upon the divine grace, which shone forth more brightly on account of their want of food. God would have them content with bitter herbs, because hasty travelers, and especially in an enemy’s country, are satisfied without delicacies, and whatever sauce they meet with is very grateful to their taste, nor does its bitterness seem offensive to them, as it does in seasons of abundance and ease. Possibly too they were reminded of their former condition; for under so dire and bitter a tyranny nothing could be sweet or pleasant. But their haste was still more plainly represented by their eating the lamb hurriedly with their shoes on their feet, and their loins girded, and leaning on their staves. Men pass from their suppers to bed and to repose; and therefore the ancients used both to take off their shoes and to lie down to it; but the people’s necessity inverts this order, since they were compelled to fly immediately from their supper. And hence the reason is subjoined, “it is the Lord’s passover;” since they escaped in safety amidst the confusion, and when the sword of God was raging. We must, however, bear in mind what we have already said, that the use of this sacrament was twofold, both to exercise the people in the recollection of their past deliverance, and to nourish in them the hope of future redemption; and therefore the passover not only reminded them of what God had already done for His people, but also of what they were hereafter to expect from Him. Consequently there is no doubt that the Israelites ought to have learnt from this rite that they were redeemed from the tyranny of Egypt on these terms, viz, that a much more excellent salvation still awaited them. But this spiritual mystery was more clearly laid open by the coming of Christ; and therefore Paul, accommodating this, ancient figure to us, commands us, because

“Christ our passover is sacrificed for us,” to “keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice, and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
(1 Cor. 5:7, 8.)

God therefore formerly wished the houses, in which the Passover was celebrated, to be free from all corruption; and far more does it become us now to take care of this, lest the sacrifice wherewith Christ has redeemed us from eternal death, should be polluted by any leaven of wickedness. To the same effect  316 is what follows, warning us lest we should be devoted to the attractions of the world, and lest our course should be delayed by the enticements of pleasure; but that we are pilgrims on earth, and should be ever girt and ready to make haste; and that although the cross of Christ be bitter, yet we should not refuse to taste it.

12. For I will pass through the land. This refers to the first passover, the night in which they were to be delivered from Egypt; and God expressly declares that He will be the judge against the false gods, because it then especially appeared how utterly unable they were to help, and how vain and fallacious was their service. The absurd commentary of some of the Rabbins  317 is tame and far-fetched, that the idols should be cast down, because by the single miracle of their redemption, all superstitions were magnificently overturned, and whatsoever men believed about idols was condemned as folly and delusion. God therefore affirms, that he would not only conquer the nation itself, but its very gods. Perhaps Isaiah alludes to this passage when he says,

“Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt; and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence,” (Isa 19:1;)

for wherever He has appeared as the Savior of His people, He has asserted His glory in opposition to all impious and corrupt religions.

14. And this day shall be unto you. This is spoken of its annual celebration, which was as well a monument of their exodus as a symbol of their future deliverance. As to its being called a rite, or ordinance for ever, (edictum soeculi,) I admit that by this expression perpetuity is meant, but only such as would exist until the renovation of the Church; and the same explanation will apply to circumcision, as well as to the whole ceremonial of the Law; for although by Christ’s coming it was abolished as concerns its use, yet did it only then attain its true solidity; and therefore the difference between ourselves and the ancient people detracts nothing from this perpetual statute; just in the same way as the new Covenant does not destroy the old in substance, but only in form. A little further on, where he says, “save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you,” verse 18; the meaning is, that they must cease from every work, except the preparation of their day’s food; and this exception is expressly made, that they may not permit themselves to violate their sacred festivals by other business.

Exodus 12:24-27, 43-49

24. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever,

24. Observabitis itaque rem istam, (vel verbum istud,) in statutum tibi et filiis tuis usque in saeculum.

25. And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.

25. Et erit quum intraveritis terram quam dabit Jehova vobis, ut pollicitus est, tunc observabitis hunc cultum.

26. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?

26. Erit autem quum dixerint vobis filii vestri, Quis est cultus iste vobis?

27. That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head, and worshipped.

27. Tunc dicetis, Est sacrificium Pesah Jehovae, qui transiliit domos filiorum Israel in Aegypto quando percussit Aegyptios, et domos nostras eruit.

43. And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover; There shall no stranger eat thereof:

43. Et dixit Jehova ad Mosen et Aharon, Statutum Pesah: Nullus alienigena comedet ex eo.

44. But every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof.

44. Sed onmis servus viri pecunia emptus, postquam ipsum circunciderit, comedet ex eo.

45. A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof.

45. Advena et mercenarius non comedet ex eo.

46. In one house shall it be eaten: thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.

46. In eadem domo comedetur: non efferes extra domum foras e, carne, et os non confringetis ex eo.

47. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.

47. Universus coetus Israel facient ipsum, (vel, mactabunt.)

48. And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

48. Quod si inquilinus apud to peregrinetur, ut faciat Pesah Jehovae, circuncidetur ei omnis masculus, et tunc accedat ad faciendum illud, eritque sicut indigena terrae; nullus autem incircuncisus veseatur ex eo.

49. One law shall be to him that is home-born, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.

49. Lex una erit indigenae et peregrino, qui peregrinatur in medio vestri.

24. And ye shall observe this thing. He again repeats the precept as to its annual celebration, and expressly says, that, when they have come into the land, the recollection of their deliverance is yearly to be revived by this rite. He adds, however, what he had not before touched upon, that they should also teach their children, since, without the aid of this teaching, it would have been an unmeaning and useless spectacle. For doctrine may justly be called the life of sacraments, without which no rigor remains in them, so far are they from imparting to us any life. Lest, then, the passover should be a lifeless ceremony, God in this place enjoins that it shall not be mute; for in these words, “when your children shall say unto you,” Moses does not mean that they are to wait until their children make inquiry of their own accord, and anticipate the zeal of their parents; but he only indicates the age when they are capable of being taught. Yet, at the same time, he indirectly exhorts the children to teachableness, when their age admits of their understanding what the passover signifies, and enjoins them diligently to inquire into the use of the ceremony; that thus religion may be handed down, and may ever flourish amongst the people. Since, then, the Paschal Lamb corresponds with the Holy Supper, we may gather from hence, that none can be duly admitted to receive it, but those who are capable of being taught.

43. This is the ordinance of the passover. Since the passover was the sacred bond whereby God would hold the elect people in obligation to Himself, He forbids all strangers from partaking of it; because a promiscuous permission to eat of it would have been an unworthy profanation. And in fact, since this is a supplement to the First Commandment, it only addresses itself to those unto whom is directed the preface of the Law, “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.” We know that among the Gentiles none but the initiated  318 were admitted to their sacred rites. This was an absurd imitation  319 of this true and lawful ordinance; because such a condition is only applicable to the institution of God, lest strangers should promiscuously usurp the testimonies of His grace, with which He honors His Church alone. For circumcision was then like a hedge, which should distinguish heathen nations from the holy race of Abraham; if, then, any should wish to celebrate the passover together with the elect people, it was necessary that he should be circumcised, so as to attach himself to the true God; though God did not merely refer to the outward sign, but to the object, viz., that all who were circumcised should promise to study sincere piety. Moses, therefore, first of all, excludes all strangers who were unclean through their uncircumcision; and then he adds two exceptions, viz., that servants bought with money should be circumcised, (which was a necessary requirement;) and that free and independent persons, if they chose to embrace the same alternative, should also be received to the passover. Hence it appears that this rite was not only peculiar to God’s people, but that it was a sign of the future redemption. For strangers could not testify that they were sharers in that redemption which had been promised to the race of Abraham alone; and, therefore, the ceremony of the sacred feast would have been vain and useless to them. Nor does Moses refer only to that mixed multitude which had followed the Israelites out of Egypt; but prescribes a law respecting all strangers, who for many succeeding ages should come on business into the land. No doubt but that, in celebrating the passover, they would have expected another redemption; since that which was already vouchsafed to the children of Abraham had not extended to them. For although they might be reckoned among the people, yet did no portion of the land in consequence fall to their lot, nor was their condition improved as to temporal rights;  320 but it was only that they might become members of the Church. From the analogy between the Holy Supper and the Passover, this law remains in force now, viz., that no polluted or impure person should intrude himself at the Lord’s table, but that only the faithful should be received, after they have professed themselves to be followers of Christ.  321 And this is expressed also in the words, “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger,” etc., Ex 12:49; viz., that the ordinance of the sacrament should be solemnly observed by all, and that thus they should equally participate in the grace offered to them in common, and that in this respect the condition of all should be equal, though it differed as to their inheritance of the land.

46. Neither shall ye break a bone thereof. I am not certain why God desired no bone to be broken; unless that this might also be a sign of haste; because people at table seldom partake of the marrow, unless when their entertainment is protracted. For I fear there is too much subtlety in the explanation which some give, that the virtue of Christ, which is represented by the bones, is not diminished whilst we feed on His flesh. But the former opinion which I have glanced at above, as it is the simplest, so also it is by no means unsuitable here; that they were commanded, when they were standing in readiness for their journey, and eating hurriedly, to burn the bones in order to prevent all delay. What God commanded as to the lamb, He chose to have openly fulfilled in the person of His only-begotten Son; that the truth corresponding with its type, and the substance with its shadow, might shew that God would be reconciled to His people by no other blood than Christ’s. Whence it is again clear that the ancients under the Law were instructed by the Paschal Lamb as to the future redemption, for otherwise this passage could not have been properly accommodated to Christ. But when the Evangelist quotes it, (Joh 19:33,) he takes it for granted that thus was typically shewn what God would bestow by His Son. Hence it came to pass that He was distinguished by this visible mark, which proved Him to be the true Passover. But, in order that no bone of Christ’s should be broken, God’s providence wonderfully interfered. The soldiers were commanded to hasten the death of Christ, no less than that of the robbers, by breaking their bones. They execute their intention on the robbers, but lest they should attempt the same on Christ, it is certain that they were restrained by a divine power, so that the wholeness of His bones might be a presage of the approaching redemption.

Exodus 13

Exodus 13:3-10

3. And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.

3. Tune dixit Moses ad populum, Memento diei hujus quo egressi estis ex Aegypto, e domo servorum: quia in fortitudine manus eduxit vos hinc Jehova: neque comedatur fermentatum.

4. This day came ye out, in the month Abib.

4. Hodie vos egredimini mense Abib.

5. And it shall be, when the Lord shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month.

5. Quum to introduxerit Jehova in terram Chananaei, Hittaei, Amorrhaei, et Hivaei, et Jebusaei, de qua juravit patribus tuis se daturum tibi, terram fluentem lacte et melle, tum coles cultum istum in meuse isto.

6. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the Lord.

6. Septem diebus comedes infermentata, die autem septimo solemnitas erit Jehovae.

7. Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days: and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee; neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters.

7. Infermentata comedentur septem diebus: nec conspicietur apud to fermentatum, neque apparebit apud to fermentum in universo termino tuo.

8. And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.

8. Annuntiabisque filio tuo eo die, dicendo, Propter hoc quod fecit (vel, propterea quod hoe fecit) Jehova mihi quum exirem ex Aegypto.

9. And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt.

9. Et erit tibi in signum super manum tuam, et in memoriale inter oculos tuos, ut sit lex Jehovae in ore tuo, quia in manu forti eduxit to Jehova ex Egypto.

10. Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year.

10. Observabisque statutum hoc in tempore suo quotannis.

3. And Moses said unto the people. He repeats what he had said more at length in the foregoing chapter, respecting the unleavened bread, not so much to instruct as to exhort them; for he had already expressed the matter with so much clearness, that there was no need of further explanation; but it was useful to stimulate them, that they might devote themselves with greater zeal to their duty, and especially lest, after a longer lapse of time, their ardor should, as usual, gradually abate. He therefore exhorts them, that after they cane into the land, they should diligently observe what he had before commanded. And from the context here, it is plain that the two commands as to the sanctifying the first-born, and celebrating the passover, had the same object, viz., that their deliverance should retain the elect people in the special service of the true God.

4. This day came ye out. He compares the day of their coming out with the whole time of their sojourning in the land of Canaan; as if he had said that they were redeemed not to enjoy a mere transient joy, but that they might be mindful of their blessing throughout all ages. He proceeds to eulogize the extent and the fertility of the land again, principally for two reasons. The first is, lest after such glorious victories pride should possess their minds, and in the abundance of their good things their eyes should be closed by fatness;the second, that by the very multitude of their possessions they might be the more incited to the duty of gratitude, and to the service of God. For it might be that the conquerors of so many nations, and the lords of so rich and extensive a territory would wax wanton, so as to be less devoted to God’s service, unless they had been reminded that they owed it to God alone that they had conquered so many peoples, and had obtained dominion over them. But Moses shews them that, in proportion to God’s goodness to them, so would they be the more inexcusable, if they did not earnestly labor to testify heir gratitude. With this object he repeats the names of the nations, by the destruction of which they were to become inheritors of the land; and then adds, “a land flowing with milk and honey,” in order to arouse them still more and more to piety by the great profusion of the blessings which would be ever before their eyes. Those are entirely mistaken who suppose that the month Abib  322 is the same as Ab, which corresponds with our July. For it is evident that the Israelites came out of Egypt in the month Nisan, about the vernal equinox; of which circumstance, the keeping of Easter, handed down by tradition from our forefathers, is an unquestionable proof. Now, since the Hebrews borrowed from the Chaldeans all the names of their months, which were in use two thousand years after, it would be absurd in this place to regard Abib as a proper name, especially when, in Scripture, we nowhere find the months designated by proper names. Since, then, reason demonstrates that this word is applied appellatively, we must inquire why it is applied to March or the beginning of April. Those who translate A bib “ripening fruits,” have no ground for it, since the word simply means “anything which grows;” hence it is applied to the stalks of corn; and because in those warm climates the corn rises to its height about the vernal equinox, from this fact, Nisan is called the month of stalks. It is also a probable conjecture, (as we have already said,) that the beginning of the year was changed, in order that the nativity of the Church might receive more distinction; as if the world were then renewed. The opinion of some that Noah came out of the ark in the same month, so that the temperature of spring might receive him in his new birth, as well as the other animals, I leave undecided as I have done on Ge 8. But if this opinion be accepted, there will be an anticipation (prolepsis) in the name of the months; and in this there will be an absurdity, because it was useful for the people to be accustomed to the rites of the Law. But I do not enter into controversy about uncertainties.

8. And thou shalt shew thy son in that day. He repeats what we have already remarked, viz., an injunction to parents to teach their children, that they may thus transmit the service of God to their descendants. In the preceding chapter it was said, “when your children shall say unto you,” etc.; and now he more briefly commands that God’s goodness should be proclaimed, although none should make inquiry respecting it; because parents ought to be voluntarily disposed to educate their children in the fear of God. He also repeats, as we have seen above, that the memory of their deliverance should be annually renewed lest it should ever fade away, since religion is easily neglected unless men are diligently exercised in its study, tie uses a comparison when he says, “it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes;” as though it had been said that their redemption should be set before their eyes in the passover, just as the ring which is on the finger, or the ornament which is bound upon the forehead are constantly seen. For which purpose also he had before desired that the precepts of the Law should be inscribed both on the head, and on the hands, and fringes of their garments. The sum is, that in the passover a monument of God’s grace should exist, so that it might never sink into oblivion; just as ornaments which appear on the forehead and on the fingers awaken the attention by their being constantly beheld. But, if any should rather be of opinion that Moses alludes to those who, conscious of their own faithlessness, contrive means to assist their memory,  323 I offer them no opposition; as if he had said that, since they were disposed to forgetfulness, they should use this remedy, to awaken themselves to gratitude. He will soon afterwards repeat the same injunction, in connection with the offering of the first-born. The following words, “that the Lord’s Law may be in thy mouth,” confirm the opinion that the passover has reference to the First Commandment. They intimate that it is not enough to perform the external rite, unless it be associated with its proper object, viz., that they should devote themselves to God and to His doctrine. He mentions the mouth, not because the main thing is, to speak or discourse of the Law, for if piety lay in the tongue, hypocrites would be the best worshippers of God; but he expressly requires that, when each one shall have privately applied himself to the study of the Law, they shall also mutually teach and exhort each other.

Deuteronomy 16

Deut. 16:3, 4

3. Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it: seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; (for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste;) that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.

3. Non comedas cum illo fermentatum: septem diebus comedes cum illo infermentata, panem afflictionis: quia festinanter egressus es e terra Aegypti: ut memineris diei quo egressus es e terra Aegypti, omnibus diebus vitae tuae.

4. And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coasts seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning.

4. Neque conspicietur apud to fermentum in omni termino tuo septem diebus: neque pernoctabit de carnibus quas sacrificabis in vespera die primo usque mane.

Exodus 23

Exodus 23:18

18. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning.

18. Non immolabis cum fermento sanguinem victimae meae: neque pernoctabit adeps agni mei usque mane.

Exodus 34

Exodus 34:25

25. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

25. Non immolabis cum fermento sanguinem sacrificii mei: neque pernoctabit usque mane sacrificium solennitatis Pesah.

Deuteronomy 16:3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it. Because by this sign they were reminded of their having escaped in haste, as it were from the very flames; therefore does Moses so often enforce the prohibition of leaven. And here this reason for it is alleged, viz., that their recollection should be recalled to the affliction from which they were rescued; for they must needs have been involved in the greatest straits, when there was no time even for baking bread. Unleavened bread is therefore called “the bread of affliction,” that the manner of their deliverance may the more enhance God’s grace. He repeats what we have seen before, that none of the flesh of the Lamb should be reserved to the following day. In the former passage from the Book of Exodus, because Moses speaks generally, the command may at first sight be referred to the perpetual sacrifice; but the latter passage takes away all obscurity, by the express mention of the passover. We need not wonder that in one place the word “fat” is used for the whole carcase, or any part of the lamb, either by synecdoche, or that God might commend the superior sanctity of the fat, of which they were not permitted to eat, and which was burnt in all sacrifices.

Numbers 9

Numbers 9:1-14

1. And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,

1. Loquutus est autem Jehova ad Mosen in deserto Sinai, anno secundo quo egressi sunt e terra Aegypti, mense primo, dicendo:

2. Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season.

2. Facient filii Israel Pesah in tempore suo.

3. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.

3. Decimoquarto die mensis hujus inter duas vesperas facietis illud tempore suo: secundum omnes titus suos, et juxta omnes ceremonias suas facietis illud.

4. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover.

4. Alloquutus est itaque Moses filios Israel ut facerent Pesah.

5. And they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.

5. Feceruntque Pesah in primo mense, decimoquarto die ejusdem inter duas vesperas in deserto Sinai: secundum omnia quae praeceperat Jehova Mosi, sic fecerunt filii Israel.

6. And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day.

6. Fuerunt autem quidam immundi super anima hominis, qui non potuerunt facere Pesah die ipso: tunc accesserunt coram Mose et coram Aharon ipso die.

7. And those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the Lord in his appointed season among the children of Israel?

7. Dixeruntque homines illi ad cum, Nos immundi sumus super anima hominis, ut quid prohibemur ne offeranms oblationem Jehovae tempore suo in medio filiorum Israel?

8. And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you.

8. Et dixit ad eos Moses, State, et audiam quid praecipiat Jehova pro vobis.

9. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

9. Loquutus est autem Jehova ad Mosen, dicendo:

10. Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you, or of your posterity, shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the Lord.

10. Alloquere filios Israel, dicendo, Quicunque fuerit immundus super anima, aut fuerit in via remota, ex vobis, vel ex generationibus vestris, faciet Pesah Jehovae.

11. The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

11. Mense secundo, decimoquarto die inter duas vesperas facient illud: cum infermentatis: et herbis amaris comedent illud.

12. They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.

12. Non relinquent quicquam ex eo usque mane, neque os confringent in co: seeundum onmes ritus Pesah facient illud.

13. But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from his people: because he brought not the offering of the Lord in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.

13. Vir autem qui est mundus, aut in via non fuerit, et cessaverit facere Pesah, excidetur anima illa e populis suis, quia oblation era Jehovae non obtulit tempore suo, peccatum suum portabit vir ille.

14. And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the Lord; according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.

14. Si vero habitaverit apud vos peregrinus, et fecerit Pesah Jehovae, juxta ritum Pesah, et juxta ceremonias ejus sic faciet: ritus unus erit vobis, tam peregrino quam indigenae terrae.

1. And the Lord spake unto Moses. We may infer how great was the carelessness, nay, even the ingratitude of the people, from the fact that God recalls to their recollection the celebration of the passover, before a year had elapsed. For what would they do fifty years hence, if there was any danger of their falling into forgetfulness of it in so short a time? If they had been voluntarily assiduous in their duty, it would have been unnecessary to repeat what had been so severely enjoined even with threats. But now God, as the year came to a close, reminds them that the day approaches on which He had fixed the passover to be held; that the Israelites might more surely learn that this solemn sacrifice is of yearly recurrence, and thus that it was sinful to omit it. He then commands that all the ceremonies should be diligently observed, and that they should not corrupt the pure institution with any strange leaven. Finally, their obedience is praised, because they had neither added anything to, nor diminished anything from, God’s command.

6. And there were certain men. A question is here introduced incidentally, viz., what must be done, if any sudden defilement should prevent any persons from celebrating the passover with the rest; since God would expunge from amongst His people whosoever should not observe this memorial of their redemption? Although the history is here touched upon, yet because the doctrine as to the just and pure observance of the passover is its main subject, nay, because this passage is a kind of supplement to the general command, I have thought it proper to connect them here. Moses says that certain men were found defiled over the soul of a man,  324 viz., either because they had touched a dead body, or had gone into a house of mourning, or had been present at the funeral of a dead man; for the Law accounted such to be polluted, as will be seen elsewhere. Hence arose a kind of discrepancy; because, whilst the unclean were not permitted to approach the sacred feast, it was sinful to neglect this exercise of religion. Even Moses confessed that he was perplexed as to this matter, since he sought for time to inquire of God. The extraordinary modesty of the Prophet here displays itself, in not daring to pronounce on a doubtful matter, although he was their lawgiver. But he thus more clearly shewed that he by no means gave the Law out of his own head, since he did not dare even to interpret it, except after receiving a new command. God, therefore, by laying down a special exception, takes away the contradiction (ἀντινομίαν). For to those, whom just necessity excused, He assigns the second month, that they too might be partakers of the passover, though they might not change the day at their own option. By this privilege He not only relieves the unclean, but also those who might be at a distance  325 from the society of their fellows, concerning whom the same question might be raised. For it was not suitable that any one should eat the passover by himself; and even if a family were too small, the neighbors were called in, that the number might be sufficient to eat the whole lamb; and therefore, the traveler abroad, or even at home, if he was far from his friends, had need of some remedy to preserve him from punishment. Moreover, we must remember that this was not a concession to despisers, nor was profane carelessness encouraged by this indulgence; but it was only a provision for the necessity of those who had inadvertently contracted defilement, or who could not escape it, or who were unexpectedly delayed on their journey. For they are said to have complained of their own accord to Moses that, on account of their uncleanness, they were prevented from eating the paschal lamb; and hence we infer their pious solicitude. For such, then, another passover is permitted; that, in the second month, they might recover what they had lost without their fault. Meanwhile it is strictly enjoined on them that they should change nothing in the whole ceremony; and on this account, what we have already seen is again repeated, viz., that they should eat it with bitter herbs, that they should not break a bone of it, and the like. But, that the permission might not be extended too far, the penalty is again denounced, if any, except for these two causes, should have neglected to celebrate the passover. For we know how men, unless they are restrained, permit themselves too great license in searching out excuses. It is more clearly expressed here than before, that the paschal lamb was a victim;  326 for it is said in Nu 9:7, “wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering?” and in Nu 9:13, “because he brought not the offering of the Lord.” I call attention to this, because there are some who think that the paschal lamb was so slain as not to be the offering of a sacrifice; whereas Paul distinctly teaches that a victim was offered in it, and then the feast annexed to it; for such is the meaning of his words, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast,” etc (1 Cor. 5:7, 8.) Whenever the word “soul”  327 is used for a dead body, I take it to be a tolerably common metaphor of the Hebrew language.



Memorial. — Fr.


This paragraph not in French.


Isa 31:5 C.’s own translation of the words rendered in our A. V., “passing over he will preserve it,” i.e., Jerusalem, is “transiliens servabit;” that of Bishop Lowth is “leaping forward, and rescuing her.” In his note on the passage, he expresses the opinion that the action described by the word פסח, in this chapter, is the “springing forward” of Jehovah the protector, to defend his people from the destroying angel.


פסח and עבר in verses 13 and 12. It is observable that C. now properly translates פסח, transilire, in his own comment; though, when commenting on it before, he had only used parts of the word transire, which expresses no more than עבר. — W


“Symbolum.” — Lat. “Signe ou Sacrement.” — Fr.


“Une facon de faire renaistre;” a means of bringing about the new birth of the Church. — Fr.


There is a considerable abbreviation of this passage in the French.


“N’ayant pas logsir d’avoir du pain ordinaire;” not having time to make ordinary bread — Fr.


“Nous avons aussi a prendre instruction touchant les herbes ameres, et equipages des voyageurs,” etc.; we must also receive instruction from the bitter herbs, and their equipment as travelers. Fr.


C. found in S. M. that Onkelos and the Rabbis said the Egyptian idols were laid prostrate. — W.


“Ceux qui y estoyent sollennellement introduits, et comme emmatriculez;” those who had been solemnly introduced to them, and as it were, matriculated. — Fr.


“Vray est que cela n’a este qu’une singerie: mais tant y a que le diable a voulu contrefaire ce qui est du vray ordre et legitime, lequel doit estre observe en tous sacremens, c’est puis qu’ils sont tesmoinages de la grace speciale de Dieu envers son Eglise, qu’on ne les doit pas prostituer a tons venans;” it is true that this was but a monkey-like imitation; but whilst the devil has thus wished to counterfeit the true and legitimate, order, which should be preserved in all sacraments, it is because they are the testimonies of the special favor of God to His Church, that they must not be prostituted to all comers. — Fr.


Omitted in the French.


“Fait protestation de leur roy et Chrestiente;” made open profession of their faith and Christianity. — Fr.


אביב C. has copied the Hebrew in his text, writing it Abib, as a proper name; but in the V. it is translated “mensis novarum frugum,” and in S.M., “mensis maturescentis frugis.” The name for July is אב, which exists in Chaldee as a general name for the fleshy fruit of trees. David Levi says, in his Lingua Sacra, that one of their Rabbis had observed that Ab or Av is not to be found in Scripture, and that all the names of the Jewish months, as Sivan, Nisan, etc., are not Hebrew but Chaldee; for which reason we do not meet with them but in the books of Zechariah, Daniel, Ezra, and Esther, which were written during the captivity; and in these four books mention is made of seven of the months, but in the Jerusalem Targum of Esther they all follow regularly. This is also the opinion of Aben-Ezra; but adds, “we find three of the months named in Hebrew, viz., Zif, in 1Ki 6:1; Bul, in same chapter, verse 38, and Ethanira in 8:2; which plainly shews that they had names for all the months in Hebrew; but during the captivity they adopted those of their masters.”W.


“Et pourtant font des neuds a leurs ceintures, ou quelque marque a leur bonnet;” and therefore make knots in their girdles, or some mark in their cap. — Fr.


“By occasion of the soul of a man.” — Douay Version. “Ex funere.” — Dathe.


Hors leurs maisons et pays. — Fr.


Sacrifice. — FR.


“The soul is here put for the body; and that dead, as often otherwhere; see Le 19:28, and Nu 5:2. Sometime the Scripture explaineth it, calling it a ‘dead soul,’ Nu 6:6. The Chaldee, Greek, and Latin keep the Hebrew phrase.” — Ainsworth in loco.

Next: Sanctifying the First Born